Louisiana State Rep Joe Lopinto Proposes Bill to Legalize Fantasy Sports

Monday, April 13th, 2015 | Written by April Bergman
Louisiana State Rep Joe Lopinto Proposes Bill to Legalize Fantasy Sports

Louisiana State Representative Joe Lopinto is proposing a new bill that would legalize fantasy sports betting in the state. Lopinto’s bill has been filed in time for the coming Louisiana state legislative session, which begins on April 13 and adjourns on June 11.

At present, Louisiana is one of 5 U.S. states which has a ban on fantasy sports gambling. That means Louisiana residents cannot legally log on to daily fantasy sports sites like FanDuel and DraftKings to play for real money. The 2006 UIGEA law made it legal for Americans to gamble on fantasy sports, though individual US states still have the right to ban such gaming inside their borders.

Wants to Clarify Gaming Laws

Joe Lopinto told reporters prior to the session’s beginning that he does not want to radically change the gaming laws of Louisiana. His bill only proposes a clarification that fantasy sports is not a type of gambling, bringing the laws into alignment with 45 other U.S. states.

Lopinto said, “We’re not betting on the outcome of a game or a point spread. Fantasy football is a game of skill. We’re just clarifying that this is not gambling.”

Says an Outcry for Fantasy Sports Exists

The state representative said their is an “outcry” for fantasy sports in the state of Louisiana. He also said that the state could benefit from legalizing, regulating, and taxing such online gaming activities.

Daily Fantasy Goes Mainstream

Lopinto’s proposed law comes a week after the Walt Disney Corporation revealed plans last week to invest $250 million in DraftKings, one of the two leading sports operators in America. The investment is not only considered a major investment in the US fantasy sports sector, but also a sign of the changing culture. The Disney Corporation has long been a staunch opponent of traditional gambling–specifically attempts to bring casinos to Florida–because the state of Florida is a traditional bastion of family-oriented tourism (due to Disneyworld).

With such major entertainment corporations and traditional opponents of gambling forging a partnership with a one-day fantasy sports business, it is seen as legitimate in a way that sports gambling is not. Besides Disney, corporations like NBC, Comcast, USA Today, and Sports Illustrated have tried to get involved in the daily fantasy sports industry.

Opposition to Fantasy Betting

Not everyone sees a difference between sports betting and fantasy sports betting. Opponents say there is no difference, but men like Lopinto say the hobby is a game of skill–not the game of chance betting on whole teams is.

The Skill of Fantasy Football Owners

Joe Lopinto clearly plays fantasy football, given his direct identification with the hobby. Fantasy football owners tend to view their hobby as a game of skill, and those who play are likely to agree with Lopinto.

The idea behind traditional fantasy football leagues is to compete with ones friends and see who has the most NFL knowledge, based on specific scoring rules. If the game is a pure contest of luck or chance, then those players really have no reason to play for bragging rights. In this writer’s experience, one tends to assume it’s a game of skill when winning and mostly luck when losing.

Difference in Daily and Yearly Games?

Whether people transfer the attitudes which apply to yearly or seasonal fantasy sports to the daily arena is another matter. It is a game of skill to draft a roster, then guide that roster through the regular season with trades, free agency, and decisions on starting lineups. The owner has to guide the team for 4 or 5 months or, in the case of dynasty leagues, for multiple years, in the pursuit of a championship.

At the same time, most owners view any given match-up as more or less a matter of luck. Many owners have seen their team dominate in the regular season, only to have one unlucky week in the playoffs and see four months of work go down the drain. They understand single contests mostly come down to luck.

With that in mind, the future of Lopinto’s proposals are still in doubt. Whether Joe Lopinto’s attitudes are going to prevail in the Louisiana legislature is still left to be seen, but one thing is for certain: 40 million Americans gamble on fantasy sports every year, so they do not see anything wrong with the practice.